Christopher Reeves

Republican speechwriter slammed for promoting alternate history to criticize critical race theory

Remember this guy? In the stream of the QAnon loving Republicans today, you'd think they have just forgotten him. He denounced Trump (far too late), and got onboard with vaccines (too soon for the Qanon conspirators). If you want to know a lot about where the Republican party is right now, take a look at the people who go to work in the Republican infrastructure. They know what the base wants, and they will say whatever it takes to continue to be relevant. Enter Ned Ryun, former Bush speechwriter, son of Kansas congressman Jim Ryun, who was defeated by Democratic candidate Nancy Boyda in a bit of an upset, and now, a ridiculous puppet for outright bonkers ideas.

Too bad he isn't here to answer that, right Ned? Care to answer how that came about? The response to Ned's comments highlights exactly the problem.

Others join in:

Even I couldn't resist a response.

Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King delivers the knockout blow:

It is a terrible thing, Ned when you forget that this is recent history and there are still people alive who remember what happened. It may be before me, but it wasn't before my parents — and that should tell you there are a whole lot of Americans alive who were here, and would wildly disagree with your weird 100% take.

Brian Williams roasts Matt Gaetz in hilarious comparison

We all have to deal with them. Some member of our extended family, or a co-worker, or someone we at a store who is just so incredibly wrong that at a certain point you want to throw up your hands and say, "Really? Really?" Enter Matt Gaetz. After testimony yesterday, Gaetz decided to go on the attack. Boy, did it go badly for him:

The response? Well, let's say a retired general had a few choice words:

It was Brian Williams on MSNBC who took the information and finally went in for the kill.

Brian Williams: "To be fair, Gaetz—the same Matt Gaetz who faces sexual trafficking charges he denies—did also tweet today to Free Britney Spears, which kind of makes him a freedom fighter."

Mic drop.

Pro-Trump 'Redneck Rave' descends into chaos as mass arrests follow weekend of throat slashing and strangulation

If you were to ask me how I wanted to spend my week, I can think of few things I would enjoy less than spending it among people who tried to sell the former guy a "campaign theme song" and spend a lot of time celebrating the idea of mixing "mudding" (which is actually somewhat enjoyable) with drunk driving, combined with assaulting women and maybe slashing a throat here and there. If you ask me, that sounds far more like the plot in a horror movie than anything I want to join in on. But in Kentucky's Blue Holler Offroad Park, that's exactly the kind of action attendees were welcome to enjoy. Welcome home, Mitch McConnell!

What more could you ask for, reallly? There are certainly attendees who were not on a Biden-hating bring-back-the-confederacy tilt, but a quick search of Facebook and YouTube turned up mostly images of vehicles with Confederate flags, pro-Trump memorabilia, or anti-Biden and anti-Harris statements. Well, hey, if you're going to roll around in the mud, I guess you might as well show who you are, really. The details are grizzly.

From The Daily Beast:

By the end of the five-day bash, dubbed the "Redneck Rave," one man had been impaled, one woman had been strangled to the point of unconsciousness, and one throat had been slit. In all, Edmonson authorities arrested 14 people, and charged four dozen people from five states.

Oh my! I really want that! That sounds so entertaining! The opportunity to listen to terrible music, get yelled at by drunks, and then impaled. Awesome.

Yahoo News goes into depth:

A five-day party in Kentucky ended in 14 arrests and 48 people charged with drug and alcohol, traffic, and assault-related offenses over their participation in what was billed as an occasion of "mud, music, and mayhem."
Numerous others were cited by police, and some were injured after partygoers descended on Blue Holler Offroad Park in Edmonson County from June 16-20 for the "Redneck Rave," an event that reportedly was held twice last year and during which one person died.

"The first vehicle that came through, we found meth, marijuana, and an open alcohol container," Sheriff Shane Doyle, who set up checkpoints in anticipation of trouble, said, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. "And then one of the occupants had two active warrants ... We were like, 'Well, this doesn't bode well for the weekend.'"

Doesn't bode well for the weekend? Just the weekend? I worry it doesn't bode well for the hometowns where the attendees will be returning if they aren't still locked up or in recovery programs.

I guess only one sentiment sums up my reaction:

Here are the damaging policies Betsy Devos left behind

George W. Bush promised he would change American education with the No Child Left Behind Act. There are certainly significant problems with a system geared toward "teaching the test," as national educators pointed out from the beginning. Betsy DeVos, the former school board member and national vouchers advocate, had her opportunity to usher in new changes to national education policy. As you can imagine, many of them were devastating to the communities who seek opportunity through education.

One of those moments came about with changes in disciplinary guidance offered to states in order to change outcomes for students. DeVos used her office to build policy based on questionable research. As a result of these changes removing restorative justice, discipline, and opportunity, disabled students and students of color suffered. The Biden administration is asking for some feedback about what to do about these DeVos changes. The answer is simple: They have to go.

In making decisions about how to handle in-school discipline, DeVos turned to John Paul Wright, a professor at the University of Cincinnati. From US News:

"Themes of injustice, oppression, disparity, marginalization, economic and social justice, racial discrimination, and state-sanctioned violence dominate criminological teaching and scholarship," he wrote in 2017. "When it comes to disciplinary biases, however, none is so strong or as corrupting as liberal views on race."

Wright is credited with reigniting interest in using genetics and biology to explain criminal behavior and has written at length about the pushback he gets for it.

"Those who pursue this line of research get branded as racists or even eugenicists," Wright wrote. "We have personally experienced hostile receptions when presenting our work in these areas at professional conferences and have been excoriated in the anonymous-review process when attempting to publish our papers."

Wright starts with an interesting point: Students who come from disadvantaged homes are more likely to have issues, but he fails to address in any way whether or not interference by the school could help mitigate those problems or worsen them. Moreso, when it comes to issues had by disabled students, Wright makes no real assessment at all. In sweeping changes, though, DeVos just moved ahead on policy changes and pushed them out nationally.

From Disability Scoop:

The most recent federal data — from the 2017-2018 school year — indicates that students with disabilities accounted for a quarter of those who were suspended and 15% of expulsions even though they represent just 13% of all students.
Similarly, 38% of students who were suspended were Black though they account for only 15% of enrollment across the country.

The impact of these changes will be far-reaching, with students pulled away from educational opportunities, and disabled students given less of a chance to succeed. The part Betsy didn't want you to know is contained in this paragraph in American Progress:

Many of the state voucher programs, particularly those that target students with disabilities, require parents or guardians to sign away their rights under the IDEA and 504, and sometimes the ADA. Other states are silent on whether participating private schools have to meet federal requirements.26 Under the Succeed Scholarship Program for Students with Disabilities in Arkansas, for example, parents must "sign waivers that release the State of Arkansas and the student's resident school district from any legal obligation to provide services or education to the student participating in the Program" and "sign an acknowledgement that, by enrolling a child in a private school, the parent/guardian, acting on behalf of the child, waives the procedural safeguards granted by the IDEA."27 In Georgia's Special Needs Scholarship Program, accepting a voucher has the same legal effect as refusing special education services.28

Now, the Biden administration is asking for your feedback. DeVos took away 72 guidelines for schools. There is an opportunity here for us to make positive changes nationally. Prepared to submit a formal comment and bring back some sanity back to public schools? Leaving the Trump administration's damaging policies behind is a great place to start.

You can leave your feedback at this link.

Joe Manchin shows us why the tyranny of the Senate continues

Nowhere near the beginning, the Filibuster was created. This has made a lot of people very angry, and has been widely regarded as a bad move. Pardon my theft, Mr. Adams, Douglas not either president Adams. You see, despite Manchin's ridiculous editorial issued today, neither John Adams or his son were ever around to see an actual filibuster. Due to a rules change originally suggested by Aaron Burr, you know, the Vice President who murdered Alexander Hamilton in a duel, the first time the filibuster ever came up was in 1837. The rules were revised several times, with Mitch McConnell revising them several times.

Senator Manchin's editorial is full of hand wringing and false equivalencies. There is one truth that is universal, understood in every single language and does not change. Numbers. When the constitution was first ratified, the founders did not write a perfect document — and they knew it and opened it up for amendments, of which there have been 27 ratified. What didn't happen from the beginning was the ability of the founders to see how a filibuster would be used to derail governing. What they might have envisioned, however, came out of the 3/5 compromise, a mathematical agreement meant to give white southern states that held slaves a seat at the table while ignoring the problem of slavery.

The US Senate, today, has become an undemocratic dividing line where senators representing lower population states are dismantling democracy in favor of representing only the few. Welcome to the four house district club, Senator Manchin's West Virginia. Sending my regards from Kansas. And while your electoral vote count may go down thanks to that loss of a US House seat you still have exactly the same power you have always had in the US Senate — that is, West Virginia is the equal to New York, California, Michigan, Texas.

Because of this breakdown, a huge population of the United States is held hostage to the wills of those in states unreflective of the nation as a whole.

But what about Manchin's claims about the founder's belief? Apparently, he doesn't well understand what the founders themselves meant when they worded the document. From Princeton Legal Journal:

When considering the filibuster as a supermajority requirement for regular legislation, it is clearly unconstitutional.2 As a textual matter, the Constitution appoints the Vice President as the tie-breaking vote in the Senate, providing that they "shall have no Vote unless [the Senators] be equally divided." This provision implies that the Senate must pass regular legislation by a majority vote. The Framers of the Constitution, while concerned with tyranny of the majority, generally favored majority rule except for certain cases. In fact, the specification of supermajority requirements in the Senate elsewhere in the Constitution, like for the ratification of treaties, indicates that the Framers never envisioned a supermajority rule for regular legislation.1
The Framers, famously wary of tyranny of the majority, devised a system of governance to protect minority rights and promote deliberation without a filibuster. The Federalist Papers outline how checks and balances, federalism, and other structural mechanisms prevent abuses of power, suppression of minority interests, and rash government action. The Framers clearly feared tyrannical majorities and an overly powerful legislature. However, even they deemed a supermajority cloture requirement unnecessary, undermining the argument that the filibuster enhances the Senate's intended function.

Senator points out his "both sides" argument, but fails, frankly, to ever really offer any details. From his editorial:

It has been said by much wiser people than me that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Well, what I've seen during my time in Washington is that every party in power will always want to exercise absolute power, absolutely. Our founders were wise to see the temptation of absolute power and built in specific checks and balances to force compromise that serves to preserve our fragile democracy

I can think of several moments Republicans have tried — and succeeded — to move with absolute power. See, the US Supreme Court justice nomination process and three seats. Republicans have used similar measures to change the rules when needed.

Democratic elected? Not so much. In 2009, the Democratic elected struggled around the ACA, trying repeatedly to negotiate with Republicans. Again, with the current infrastructure bill, we keep going back to the table to negotiate. Republicans, when they had power over all three bodies did no such fair bargaining. While Senator Manchin talks about bipartisanship, Republicans have acted for quite a while as if they have never heard of it — in 2017, the Trump tax plan was negotiated between.. Republicans. Democratic feedback wasn't welcome or even really considered.

There is a simple problem with the West Virginian's solution of bipartisanship, and that is how you define it. I've spoken at a lot of meetings, and I always use this as an example. A husband and wife go to a marriage counselor. They are having a dispute. The husband has decided he wants to burn the house down. The wife is opposed, and says loudly: "How about we just burn down the garage?"

Either way, the house is destroyed.

Bipartisanship requires good faith results. You can't really negotiate in a way where your home is destroyed at the end of the talks.

With Republicans putting a stranglehold on low population red states they have developed a hard wall that guarantees them a large number of senators before they start.

Sorry, Senator, you can save your excuses for something else. If you really wanted HR4 instead, you have just handed Republicans exactly the tool they needed until midterms by telling them they can count on your vote to stop absolutely everything and anything that President Biden proposes. Good for you, bad for America.

Why does the tyranny of the senate continue? Because when given the opportunity to change it, the people who could help the situation sit on their hands; and those who benefit from the tyranny work harder and harder to prevent others from voting to change the situation.

Watch: Mitt Romney heckled as Utah Republican convention turns into Trump party

It shouldn't surprise anyone that Republican state conventions this year are more out of control than ever. Bitter about losing the White House, control of the Senate and House, Republicans are up in arms, and they are eager to not blame President Donald J. Trump, who lost them the US House in 2018, and who's defeat cost them the US Senate. Instead, Republican state conventions, convinced it is all a setup, have decided to turn on Republicans that they don't feel are conservative enough.

When Mitt Romney took to the stage in Salt Lake City, despite being the 2012 Republican Presidential Nominee, he heard all about how he was an apparent traitor and a communist. Romney had quick responses, though, boiling down to: "Do you know who my dad is?"

I cannot speak for every man I know over 40, but somewhere in my life I decided that I really couldn't play the card that says: "stop picking on me, do you know who my dad is?" It, well, seems fairly weak. For Mitt Romney, facing down boos, though, it was the off-the-cuff response that hit home. From the Salt Lake Tribune:

"Aren't you embarrassed?" said Romney trying to deflect the chorus of catcalls that greeted him as he took the stage.
"I'm a man who says what he means, and you know I was not a fan of our last president's character issues," said Romney as delegates attempted to shout him down. Accusations that Romney was a "traitor" or "communist" flew from the crowd like so many poison darts.

"You can boo all you like," said Romney. "I've been a Republican all of my life. My dad was the governor of Michigan and I was the Republican nominee for president in 2012."

The booing, however, did not easily abate.

Sen. Mitt Romney speaks at the 2021 Utah GOP Convention

It's OK, though, the Republican state convention in Utah did have some good news. According to Congressman Owen Burgess, racism is nearly non-existent in Utah, and, that is in comparison to America, which is the least racist country in the world.

Congressman Burgess Owens offered deep gratitude for Utah's focus on family, sense of volunteerism and respect for racial diversity. "We're the least racist state in the country and the least racist country in the world," he said.

The Netherlands, New Zealand, Canada and several others have so far declined to comment.

Kansas GOP calls Sen. Joe Manchin their bipartisan hero

he Kansas GOP has a history of being seen as credible brokers of moderate proposals. After all, Sen. Roger Marshall was one of only six senators to refuse to certify President Joe Biden, and their state legislature has just spent months debating anti-transgender legislation and anti-science COVID-19 legislation as high priority.

Kansas Republicans chose Kris Kobach to serve as secretary of state and then as their nominee for governor. Now he may be seeking a position as state attorney general. When you're looking for a party that knows something about bipartisanship, why, the Kansas GOP is a beacon held high, guiding troubled ships to shore.

From the Kansas Reflector:

U.S. Rep. Ron Estes, the Republican 4th District representative, said the Democratic takeover was accompanied by a couple months of "hatefulness" that has somewhat subsided.

He expressed optimism Republicans would retake the House in 2022 after redrawing of congressional district maps and with Democrats taking the historically inevitable mid-term election hit. In the meantime, he said, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat from West Virginia, was the GOP's backstop in the divided Senate.
"The most powerful person in Washington, D.C., is a man named Joe. And it's Manchin, not Biden," Estes said.

You can spend all the time you want reading about the Democratic senator from West Virginia at Vox, but the short story is simple: He's not going to support big senate reforms, will likely stop a great deal of infrastructure work, and stands against voting rights reforms. That's enough to garner some Republican praise and catch some support for being bipartisan.

There's something great about finding a bipartisan compromise. In a recent argument, a friend and I argued about a house. They wanted to burn it down. I proposed we not burn it down. We were unable to reach a bipartisan compromise as their counterproposal was that we just burn down the garage. While that was certainly a compromise between the two positions, I just couldn't accept it. I recognizing the house would still be rendered permanently damaged and, well, we would be committing arson.

Oh well. Maybe Joe Manchin has a plan that just agrees to disenfranchise only the people Republicans want to disenfranchise and can call it bipartisan.

Or something.

Republican Party reduced to sniveling hypocrites hoping for Caligula Trump's blessing

Four years ago, Republicans couldn't believe that a reality TV star would end up their nominee. They were sickened at the possibility. They said they would never let it happen to their party. Now, without a doubt, the Republican Party is entirely the party of Donald J. Trump, and the people who were against him just a few years ago are now his strongest sycophants.

We look back at history for incredible leaders who put their stamp on the generations that followed. Some have left positive marks on a nation or empire that are still being felt—FDR is an example. Others, like Caligula, Nero, or Andrew Johnson aren't necessarily the leaders you would imagine people lining up to make sure they were aligned with. As for the modern Republican Party: Oh no, call them the party of Trump now. They are so desperate to get Trump's blessing that they are throwing themselves on the ground and begging at his mansion in Florida.

Politico reported on the madhouse event:

The scene illustrated what has become a central dynamic in the nascent 2022 race. In virtually every Republican primary, candidates are jockeying, auditioning and fighting for the former president's backing. Trump has received overtures from a multitude of candidates desperate for his endorsement, something that top Republicans say gives him all-encompassing power to make-or-break the outcome of primaries.

Four candidates from Ohio flew down and begged, groveled, and patted the back of Trump, believing that his blessing would give them the inside track to the nomination in 2022.

This is an interesting dynamic change from where the Republican Party was just a few years ago, in case we forget:

Ted Cruz: Donald Trump Is a 'Pathological Liar'

Some things are the same, though. The best political motive to serve the country and get things done is always revenge, right? Oh wait, that probably isn't a good reason to serve the public. From ABC NY:

Trump has yet to formally endorse the whole group of former administration officials, but he's already offering his support to some 2022 candidates to keep a grip on the GOP and deliver a dose of retribution to Republicans who he believes have wronged him, experts say.
"It's more about trying to push out those who he feels weren't nice to him," said Doug Heye, a former spokesman for the Republican National Committee. Heye boiled Trump's 2022 ambitions down to just a few personal goals: grabbing attention, seeking revenge, and ensuring his grip on the Republican Party.

For many candidates, the path into the 2022 campaign begins at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, where fledgling candidates are courting his support while also spending hefty sums of campaign money to host lavish fundraisers at his property.

Don't worry, folks. If Trump couldn't grift off of you before, now he'll make sure your donations to other candidates' funds end up in his pockets by forcing that money to be spent at his resorts.

I'm sure they can explain how this will economically help your state somehow.

DNC Chair Jaime Harrison demolishes RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel's fake outrage

Ronna McDaniel is worried about the world. Mostly, as chair of the RNC, she's worried about the fact that Google is, based on her theory, suppressing right-wing voices. While there hasn't been a lot of actual proof of that—it's mostly anecdotal conspiracy theories—it doesn't stop the RNC chair from screaming it loudly and calling for the tech giant to be called to task.

Don't get me wrong: I find it interesting and useful to have Republicans so interested in regulations, and, potentially, in breaking up monopolies. It would be an interesting discussion to have. While most of this boils down to programming and data modeling to show consumers in markets what they think will generate the most clicks, Republicans love the talking point. When the talking point meets a real, actual problem, however, they have absolutely no answer.

When studied, The Washington Post pointed out that many conservative-leaning websites get more promotion and spread over liberal/progressive websites, so conservative complaints are a bit of a tiny violin problem. In one tweet, however, Chair Jaime Harrison points out a real, defined problem that one party is directly causing: voter suppression.

Don't worry, Ronna. You can keep at this for the next few years—maybe you'll improve. Heads up: Next time, don't use the search term "DNC." You'll come up with DNC as a result.

Kansas Republican admits to voter fraud, agrees to diversion

If you ask Republicans, voter fraud is rampant and is quickly destroying the viability of elections. They argued that so many of these illegal votes are swaying elections that elections should be questioned. So far, however, the cases seem to show that voter fraud is extremely rare, and, whoops, often committed by Republicans.

In Kansas, the case of Steve Watkins, former US Congressman reached a conclusion last night with the former congressman admitting he had, in fact, committed voter fraud and that he didn't live at a UPS Store. Watkins, who lost to Jake Laturner, Republican State Treasurer, argued that the case was being brought up only for political reasons, as the relevant information was known for months beforehand and was related to a 2019 case. The voter fraud case marks another moment in the strange, strange tale of a former congressman who no one was ever sure of where he came from — and where he plans to go.

Steve Watkins appeared on the Kansas election scene in 2018 from out of nowhere. Republicans in the statehouse denounced Watkins, mostly on the grounds no one had ever heard of him, his claims seemed to be over the top, and his credentials simply didn't exist. From the Kansas City Star:

"Clearly, this is the way the affluent get their middle-aged kids out of the basement," said state Sen. Steve Fitzgerald, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and one of Watkins' primary foes. Later, he added, "He's a charlatan, a fraud and an opportunist."

But Fitzgerald also said the newcomer probably is leading. The GOP field has seven candidates and because Kansas doesn't hold runoff elections, it's possible to be nominated with less than 30 percent of the vote.

State Senator Fitzgerald and others kept pointing out what could at best be called inconsistencies in Watkin's stories. One of those tall tales finally caught up to him, however, and now, the former Representative admits guilt. The Associated Press offers this take:

Former Congressman Steve Watkins of Kansas has entered a diversion program to avoid trial over allegations that he voted illegally in a 2019 municipal election.

Watkins, a Republican from Topeka who served only one term in the U.S. House, was facing three felony charges. He was accused of listing a postal box at a UPS store as his home on a state registration form when he was living temporarily at his parents' home. He was also charged with lying to a detective who investigated the case.

While the congressman admits to voter fraud, it appears his penalty will be very minor, a $250 fine and an agreement to not possess firearms for 6 months. Watkins refers to the matter as a "mistake," others who have made similar honest mistakes, however, find themselves facing up to 5 years in prison. I guess it pays off to be a wealthy white Republican facing voter fraud charges.


Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.